Bringing home a sporting trophy from a globally recognised event isn’t something Scotland normally does, but it’s exactly what our men’s volleyball team did last week.
The team smashed their way to success at the European Volleyball Championship of the Small Countries under the watchful eye of team manager – and our very own Organisational Development adviser - John Swan.
At the event, which was held in Torshavn, Faroe Islands, from October 4th to 6th, the team gave an ace performance, winning two matches against Greenland and Faroe Islands and only losing to Iceland.
John said: “The European Championship is a round robin competition with teams playing three matches each. Although we lost our first match to Iceland we felt we should have won it. The next match was against the Faroes and we knew we had to beat them to retain an interest in the championship, and we did - three sets to one!
“On the last day we had to beat Greenland and the Faroes had to beat Iceland if we were to have a chance of winning gold. It was funny watching our players from the side lines, firstly wanting the Faroes to win two sets, then suddenly changing their allegiance to Iceland in the hope they would win a set, then back again to the Faroes to win a third set.
“After all the matches were played the Faroes, Iceland and Scotland were all tied with two wins each, all had seven sets and all had lost four sets. In the end, it came down to points difference and we had the better differential so we brought home the cup!”
Having played volleyball for Larbert High School then Falkirk Volleyball Club, John kept a keen interest in the sport once he’d hung up his trainers, becoming an international referee for 15 years which saw him referee 120 European Cup matches in 20 countries and at the London 2012 Olympics.
On retiring from refereeing he was offered the role of Scotland men’s team manager in 2015, providing him with a way to keep in touch with his European contacts in the sport.
“They knew I had extensive knowledge of the European volleyball scene so I was a good fit once the former manager stepped down voluntarily. My role is varied and many – from booking training halls to arranging accommodation for players and staff when competing abroad, booking flights, arranging uniforms and kit and I’m responsible for the behaviour of players and staff off court.”
Now that Scotland has brought back the trophy John hopes “sportscotland might think about raising our annual grant money, so that we can really focus on player development.”
Pictured: John with the cup (above) and with the team below (back row on the right).